7 things to consider when choosing an IT service provider

2023/23/01

There was a time when an SME's IT infrastructure could fit in a cupboard. Network security was simple and maintenance was minimal. The role of IT was given to the most technically skilled person in the office, whose main job was to tell employees to restart their computers if something went wrong. This scenario no longer exists. The infrastructure has moved to the cloud and networks are much more complex.

Today, business owners recognise that designing, installing and maintaining a secure and compliant network that supports modern business applications is not something that can be done in-house. Even organisations with in-house IT staff are recognising that they need external help with day-to-day tasks to focus on strategic initiatives. 

What is a managed IT service?

To overcome the complexity of the modern network and the lack of in-house resources, many companies are turning to the managed IT services model to ensure the ongoing management and security of their network.  

Managed IT service providers have the skills, qualifications, personnel and advanced tools to remotely manage and monitor the network. They can also leverage close relationships with top IT suppliers to optimise service delivery. 

Of course, the first step is to choose the right provider. Here are seven features that are essential to consider when making your decision. 

7 things to consider when choosing an IT service provider

  1. Right industry, right size 
  2. Cloud Computing 
  3. Customizability 
  4. Reliable support 
  5. Compliance-oriented organisation 
  6. Favourable SLAs 
  7. Partnership 

 

1. Right industry, right size

The right managed IT solution for a law firm of 25 people with two offices will be quite different from one for a company of 2,500 people with headquarters, five offices and a global workforce. 

Ideally, you will find a managed IT provider with experience in serving organisations of similar size in your industry. If not, look for a provider with a proven track record of helping companies address similar issues and overcome similar challenges. 

2. Cloud Computing

Almost all organisations use the cloud and cloud services to some extent. Most of them rely on a combination of public and private cloud and on-premises infrastructure, both of which are hybrid architectures.  

A managed IT service provider must have the expertise and the tools to manage and monitor complex environments and to apply policies consistently across all network devices, even if they are located on multiple cloud platforms. 

3. Customization

There is no one-size-fits-all managed IT solution, even for a provider specialising in your industry. Your managed IT provider must be willing to tailor its solution to your specific needs and adapt as necessary.  

If you feel you need to change your operations to adapt to a managed IT service provider's solution, it's probably time to look elsewhere. 

4. Reliable support  

Support can mean different things to different service providers. Ask potential managed IT service providers for a clear definition of support. Investigate their support processes, the people who work there and the systems they use to provide support.  

To minimise business disruption, make sure their support capabilities and availability match your business needs. 

5. Compliance-oriented organisation

Regulatory compliance requirements are growing in number and complexity. Compliance has become more than an annual audit, a daily responsibility.  

The managed IT service provider you choose should be able to demonstrate how they monitor your IT environment for compliance and proactively address potential issues.  

The managed IT service provider should also be compliant and able to provide you with documentation to support their compliance. 

6. Favourable SLAs

Like most business contracts, service level agreements (SLAs) are usually written to favour the service provider. This should not be the case with your managed IT service provider.  

Make sure that the terms of SLAs that define the scope of services, roles and responsibilities, performance requirements, problem handling, escalation process and even termination of the relationship do not put you at a disadvantage. 

7. Partnership

The right managed IT service provider will show a genuine interest in your organisation and its success. They should take the time to understand your goals and challenges and tailor them accordingly. They need to be available when you need them. This happens when you are seen as a strategic partner, not a customer. 

The long-term relationship you develop with your managed IT service provider is too important to rely solely on marketing claims and price tags when making a decision. While the right provider can provide real competitive advantages, the wrong provider can drag your organisation down. 

Think of the qualities mentioned above. Find the best managed IT service provider for your company. This approach will undoubtedly serve you best in the long run.